Let’s start talking…period!

Let’s start talking…period!

At Leila & Geoffrey we support a range of artists, charities and creative businesses. We especially like to advocate social enterprises that make an impact. 

Menstruation. Periods. Being On. 

It’s often considered an embarrassing topic, even a taboo subject in some parts of the globe, but half of the world’s population bleeds every month. For some women they purchase sanitary products, cope with their body’s changing hormone levels and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and then, perhaps, forget about it for a few weeks.

For some it’s not as easy as that. Over 2.5 billion people globally lack access to basic sanitation and hygiene, and the United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and human-rights issue.

But that’s just in developing countries, right? 

Wrong. In March 2017 the BBC published a report that revealed UK children were regularly missing school because they couldn’t afford to buy menstrual products. Shockingly, some girls were wrapping socks around their underwear to stop the bleeding or using newspaper. 

The term ‘period poverty’ refers to being unable to access menstrual products because of financial challenges, which according to charity Plan International UK, is 1 in 10 girls. This really only came to light after charity Freedom 4 Girls, originally providing menstrual products to schoolgirls in Kenya, was forced to redirect some of their deliveries to schools in Leeds.

In the UK, research has shown that women spend over £18,000 on their periods over the course of their lifetime. This includes essential sanitary items and pain relief but also new underwear. Additionally, they are still paying a 5% VAT as feminine hygiene products are deemed a ‘luxury item’.

As poverty and governmental cutbacks bite and there’s a growing dependence on food bank handoutsmenstrual products have, for some, become an unattainable luxury rather than a monthly necessity. 

Finally, many women are also suffering the prolific shame and embarrassment around their periods in silence, and feel unable or reluctant to ask for help.

Thankfully, there are organisations that channel their horror into action. 

Free Periods is on a mission to ensure no girl in the UK is living in period poverty. Headed up by Amika George, who balances homework with a radical call to action, Free Periods is on a mission to make sure that no girl in the UK is living in period poverty. 

Before eating her breakfast before school back in 2017, Amika was so shocked to learn that girls her age and younger were missing out on an education because of the lack of sanitary support they receive, it propelled her to take action; and she started Free Periods from her bedroom. 

In December 2017, the movement organised a 2000-people protest outside Downing Street, calling on the Government to end period poverty. £1.5 million was given in funds (proving that activism really does work) but Amika believes the fight for #freeperiods is far from over and they want more; specifically, for the Government to make a statutory pledge to end period poverty by providing free menstrual products to all girls in the UK on Free School Meals. 

They also want to normalise the conversation surrounding periods and end the silence and stigma that comes with it – feelings which are likely to be even worse for women facing period poverty.

“Ultimately, it’s a women issue and we live in a patriarchal society with a patriarchal government” says Amika. “There’s this idea that, because only women have periods, they can be swept under the carpet”.

Free Periods have outlined ways in which you can help:

  • Support their Partners (including Bloody Good PeriodFreda and Freedom 4 Girls)
  • Write to your MP
  • Tweet Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, to demand that all girls on free school meals should receive free sanitary products
  • Sign the change.org petition

Further information is available on the website here.

Amika and the Free Periods feminist movement is on a mission to rid period poverty from our schools and our history. In the movement’s words, “It’s damaging. It’s undignified. It’s unacceptable, and it must stop”. 

We support them every step of the way. Menstrual hygiene is a human right. Period.

WEBSITE: https://www.freeperiods.org/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/AmikaGeorge

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/pinkprotest/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

At Leila & Geoffrey we support a range of artists, charities and creative businesses. We especially like to advocate social enterprises that make an impact. 

“Loneliness is hallmarked by an intense desire to bring the experience to a close; something which cannot be achieved by sheer willpower or getting out more, but only by developing intimate connections”. 

Olivia Laing, The Lonely City (“Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman published by Harper Collins).

Loneliness has become a modern epidemic, with the potential to cause serious damage to our physical and mental health. Studies have emerged that link loneliness to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer and some scientists believe it is as dangerous to our health as obesity or smoking.

A 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness – which aims to start a national conversation about the scale and impact of loneliness in the UK – shone a powerful light on the fact that more than 9 million people in the UK often or always feel lonely. 

Such is the concern about the prevalence of loneliness in the country that in January 2018, the Prime Minister announced not only her government’s plans to tackle the issues and combat isolation but also the appointment of a ministerial lead on loneliness. Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society leads a cross-government group that has responsibility for devising policies connected to loneliness and developing a national strategy. 

Feelings of alienation or sadness about being alone are indiscriminate and can affect everyone; whether single men and women, parents on Shared Parental Leave, tech-savvy millennials or the elderly. A study from the Office for National Statistics found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were “always or often” lonely – the highest proportion of any age group. 

Yet, across all the measures and categories in the report, research shows that people aged over 75 are “63 times less likely to report loneliness than those aged 16 to 24 years”. Age UK, the UK’s largest charity working with older people, highlights that “for a growing number of people, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define their lives and have a significant impact on their wellbeing”. 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone and 1.9 older people often feel ignored or invisible. 

Thankfully there are charities that tirelessly campaign to help counter feelings of solitude and desolation – like The Silver Line. It operates the only free, confidential and national helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people aged 55 and over. It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Callers to the Helpline can receive help from a specially trained team who can:

  • Offer information, friendship and advice.
  • Link callers to local groups and services.
  • Offer regular friendship calls.
  • Protect and support older people who are suffering abuse and neglect.

In addition, the charity offers invaluable befriending services including the Silver Letters friendship scheme for those with hearing issues or who might just prefer the written word and Silver Line Telephone Friends, a scheme that matches volunteers with older people based on their interests and means that an older person can enjoy a regular weekly friendship telephone call. Silver Connects provides more intense support, advice and help by connecting people with their local services, such as finding lunch clubs and advising on financial concerns and Silver Circles offers group calls for people with shared interests. 

The charity – proud to be a member of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness – was founded by Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, who had written about her own feelings of isolation as a widow living alone for the first time at 71. She believes that older people keep families functioning, (one third of all working mothers depend on grandparents for childcare), that they form the bedrock of the charitable sector and that in the workplace their skills and experience make an invaluable contribution. The Silver Line believes that if older people become isolated and vulnerable, it is the nation’s responsibility to make them feel valued, to include them, empower them, and connect them back to their communities – and this is what they hope to achieve. 

They believe that human connection is key and for many of their c10.5k weekly callers, 90% live alone and the majority have no one else to speak to – this is an incredibly distressing statistic. Loneliness can cause serious damage, both physically and mentally and the gnawing feeling of isolation can affect anyone at any time. 

So, if you’re looking for a worthwhile volunteering opportunity get in touch with The Silver Line. One phone call and a ‘friendly chat’ could provide a lifeline – and make someone’s day just a little bit easier. As the late Jo Cox once said, “I will not live in a country where thousands of people are living lonely lives forgotten by the rest of us.” We agree.

WEBSITE: https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/

PHONE LINE: 0800 4 70 80 90

TWITTER: @TheSilverLineUK

DONATE: Text SILVER to 70660 to DONATE £10

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.

Inspiring the Future

Inspiring the Future

At Leila & Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact. 

Like Inspiring the Future, a London-based charity that exists to help children aspire to be whatever they want – regardless of who they are and where they come from.

Young people strive to be what they see around them in their everyday life but it’s difficult to aspire to a future that you never see and don’t know exists. Inspiring the Future changes this. The charity believes that every young person can be whatever they want to be – wherever they live, whatever their parents do, whichever school they attend and however they identify themselves. 

They show young people exciting futures and give them the opportunity to meet face-to-face a wide range of role models that do interesting, exciting jobs – with the aim of inspiring and motivating them. The charity helps young people to understand that by aiming high, working hard and making an effort in school or college they can realise their dreams.

For their latest campaign, No More Female Professionals, they aim to create a future that is free of gender bias and full of equal opportunities. 

It’s a thought-provoking, authentic and empowering video that asks whether the language we all use when speaking about jobs is contributing to the problem of unconscious gender bias, which limits the opportunities that children perceive they have.

The campaign asks us to drop the ‘female’ prefix that is often used for traditionally male-dominated roles such as builders, soldiers, surgeons and CEOs. It challenges society to consider why we unnecessarily add a gender label to a female professional. After all, shouldn’t people be judged on their manner, skill and output?

The No More Female Professionals campaign is also an invitation for working people to sign up to www.inspiringthefuture.org and volunteer in state schools to talk to young people about their careers, what inspired them to follow their own path and what educational or learning route helped them to get to where they are. 

No More Female Professionals moves the conversation on from Inspiring the Future’s 2016 campaign called #RedrawTheBalance, an experiment that explored how gender stereotypes form in minds as young as the early years of primary school and that this is a global issue. Both videos were devised by creative agency MullenLowe London, part of the MullenLowe Group.

Watch Redraw the Balance

Landmark research by Education and Employers and their report, Drawing the Future, found that from as young as 6 years old, children start to form stereotypes about career aspirations. The campaign successfully shone a light on how gender stereotyping takes hold at a young age and the language we use in the workplace still paves the way for unconscious bias, which in turn can affect the dreams and aspirations of future generations. 

Inspiring the Future are here to correct that. Their latest No More Female Professionals campaign asks us to un-stereotype our language; because a female CEO is a CEO and a female soldier is a soldier.  By exposing children to a broad range of jobs and introducing them to real people doing them, it demonstrates to future generations that gender or socio-economics should not determine what they aspire to be.

You can help create this future by volunteering for one hour a year to talk to young people about your job and help create a future that is free of gender bias and full of equal opportunities. Same opportunities, same titles.

We wish Inspiring the Future all the very best with their campaign.

WEBSITE: https://www.inspiringthefuture.org/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/EducationEmployers

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/InspiringTF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.

 

Gurls Talk

Gurls Talk

At Leila & Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact. 

With only a few weeks of 2018 underway, mental health issues continue to dominate the headlines. According to figures from NHS Digital, one in ten teenage girls is being referred for specialist mental health services and an alarming rise in self-harm is reported, with a 68% increase in cases since 2011 amongst teenage girls. 

These make for concerning statistics, but thankfully coincide with heightened awareness of mental health issues, positive aims to reduce the stigma surrounding it and high-profile figures openly discussing matters that affect so many people.

Like award-winning Ghanian-English supermodel and activist, Adwoa Aboah. The Vogue cover star and winner of the 2017 Fashion Awards’ Model of the Year accolade has been searingly open about her battles with depression and addiction. An activist for mental health issues, she has spoken about the attempt to take her own life in 2015 and participated in a moving and courageous interview with her mother, Camilla Lowther, for the Heads Together campaign.

With her own journey through mental health issues, Adwoa created Gurls Talk, an online platform to educate and inform women across the UK and provide a safe space for them. Gurls Talk is a community and movement that encourages young girls and women to talk, without judgement or stigma, on a subject that is troubling them or that they need more information about. Topics include, but are not limited to, addiction, sexuality, body image and racial diversity and young women are encouraged to tell their story or share a poem or illustration for submission on the platform.

Gurls Talk began in 2015 as an Instagram account where women were encouraged to share their stories and has since grown into a community of over 139k and events including day-long empowerment festivals with talks by Adwoa, relationship experts and psychologists. The platform tackles subjects ranging from anxiety, sexual misconduct and negative thoughts and signposts its followers to charities and enterprises that can help, like mental health charity Mind. 

The information provided by Gurls Talk is not intended to be a supplement or alternative to health care such as proper psychological evaluation, diagnosis and treatment and the platform offers knowledge and support rather than therapy. However, licensed psychologist Dr Lauren Hazzouri has partnered with the platform and shares her perspective and offers evidence-based insights.

Adwoa is undoubtedly beautiful with a career in fashion most can only dream about, but she is also courageous and smart. Gurls Talk provides a safe space to share experiences and feelings as well as gain strength and hope from others and is an influential and movement to help raise awareness of mental health issues. The team at Leila & Geoffrey wish them all the very best.

WEBSITE – http://www.gurlstalk.com/ 

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/gurlstalk/ 

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/gurlstalk 

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/Gurls-Talk-1691798000864431/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.

 

Moments of Sense and Style

Moments of Sense and Style

In a digital age where we’re flooded daily with words, stories, and great hunks of content to digest, it’s not often an article can make you stop and think rather than swipe away. Syreeta Challinger’s ‘The Moment That Made Me’ for October’s Glamour Magazine did just that.

Syreeta’s tale begins in Sydney, Australia on the second night of a holiday back in 2014. She was 5,000 miles away from their Hong Kong home and laying next to her partner who had suffered a terrifying and near fatal brain haemorrhage, which then triggered a stroke. She had awoken to Rob staggering and screaming, clutching his head in agony before having a seizure and vomiting. He was 37.

What followed was a painful and unimaginably difficult set of circumstances; after intensive surgery, Rob was brought out of his coma unable to speak and with right side paralysis. He had to relearn fundamental life skills such as eating solid food and swallowing and needed assistance getting dressed.

Syreeta and Rob had built exciting and high profile careers; she a product development manager in fashion, he a brand agency director. Urban nomads, they travelled globally and frequently and enjoyed an active and creative life. In the blink of a moment, their lives were turned upside down in the most brutal of ways.

Leaving Sydney after three months, they returned to Rob’s home town of Lincoln to continue with his significant recovery. Syreeta commuted into London with the aim of preserving a connection to their former life, but it became evident that Rob’s recovery was impacted by her absence so she resigned and became his full time carer. 2016 was difficult and isolating, but while sorting through some possessions, Syreeta stumbled upon an old sketchbook where an idea they had for a concept store named Moments of Sense & Style (MOSS) sat patiently waiting.

She began working on the MOSS plan and brainstorming product ideas – like patterned notebooks, candles and art and carefully considered how her and Rob’s harrowing story could be reflected in their craft. 

Gradually, it came beautifully together. Born from a desire to create light out of the darkness, it became a stylish concept store with an innovative and conceptual approach to dealing with life changing events. Each scent of each candle is integral to the remarkable brand story. Syreeta’s main job is carer to Rob, who thankfully has made remarkable progress in the circumstances and helps with MOSS product design.

There is so much to take away from Syreeta and Rob’s horrific story. The importance of enjoying life when it is good, as we never truly know what’s around the corner. How acts of complete and utter selflessness, showing courage and strength during the most testing times and temporarily putting your life on hold for the person you love are the real Stories we should be sharing on social media.

We applaud both Syreeta and Rob and covert their considered design, high-quality products. This is accessible luxury with meaning and a reminder that creativity really can heal.

As Syreeta wisely reminds us ‘‘Play the cards you’ve been dealt, as best you can’.

WEBSITE – https://www.momentsofsenseandstyle.com/

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/momentsofsenseandstyle/ 

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/moments_hello 

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/momentsofsenseandstyle/

Getting Dressed for Success –  Women’s Charity Smart Works

Getting Dressed for Success – Women’s Charity Smart Works

At Leila and Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact. 

Like Smart Works, a UK charity that dresses and coaches women for interview success. 

Choosing what to wear for a job interview is a critical element of the overall preparation. While ultimately your skills, capability and experience should be the key factors to drive success, undoubtedly what you wear can also influence a panel’s decision. But what if you don’t have access to a killer wardrobe, are on a low-income or your confidence is depleted after being out of work for some time?

That’s where Smart Works comes in. They exist to help unemployed women into work, by developing their interview skills and providing them with professional clothes to boost their confidence. The charity welcomes any woman who needs their service, has a job interview secured and who has been referred by one of the hundreds of organisations they partner with including the local Job Centre PlusCentrepoint and Solace. 

At one of their six locations across the UK and with the help of 250 trained volunteers, women can enjoy a focused two-hour session with the Smart Works power team, comprised of two elements; (1) clothing advice and expertise from highly skilled and trained stylists and (2) interview advice from senior managers, HR professionals and executive coaches. 

At the end of the session, Smart Works clients get a complete outfit of clothes and accessories to keep and interview training to help them believe in their ability to succeed. If they bag that dream job, they can come back for more clothing to see them through to their first pay cheque. The clothes are high-quality and donated by other working women, high profile fashion labels and leading retailers including WhistlesEvans and Hobbs.

Patrons include fashion designer Betty Jackson CBE, comedian, writer and producer Jennifer Saunders and leading fashion retail figure Jane Shepherdson MBE. Charity Ambassadors include Barclays Director Caroline Graham, brand and image consultant / The Telegraph columnist Isabel Spearman and Samantha Cameron, Founder and Creative Director of contemporary womenswear label Cefinn, all bringing their unique drive, passion and style to the table.

It’s not just the team that are impressive, the statistics are too. Smart Works dressed over 2,800 women in 2016 in stylish, high-quality clothes and over 1 in 2 women get the job after using its service, with half the charity’s clients finding employment within one month. They were winners in the social care, advice and support category at the Charity Awards 2017 who rewarded their efforts in cross-partner working, addressing diversity and inequality issues and helping women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Smart Works helps women to feel confident, look fabulous, succeed at their job interview and move on with their life. The charity is on a mission to grow across the country and increase its reach to women who really need them. 

Women look in the mirror and see hope and potential; they see themselves again. It’s simple, practical and empowering and here at Leila and Geoffrey we wish them all the very best.

WEBSITE – http://smartworks.org.uk/

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/smartworkscharity/

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/smartworkscharity/